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Metric Mysteries – What, How & When

A metric mystery (what, how & when) every project manager needs to solve to be able to effectively use project metrics. Project metrics, you either swear by their effectiveness or consider them manipulative. Though project metrics and statistics in general are subject to manipulation, but does not take away their effectiveness. In fact they are one of the most powerful tools available with a project manager traditional or agile. However measuring and reporting project metric(s) can be a tricky business, specially since it is well known that metrics drive and influence behaviour. (The Hawthorne – a form of reactivity whereby subjects improve or modify an aspect of their behavior being experimentally measured simply in response to the fact that they are being studied,not in response to any particular experimental manipulation. - Wikipedia)

So what makes them such an indispensable tool? While the reasons may be many here are a few key ones

Now getting back to cracking the mystery – The What, How & When

What To Measure
While there can be be numerous metrics that can be computed based onf the phase of the project to the type of the project, most of them will likely fall under the following fundamental categories.

How To Measure
With the importance and the categories of project metrics clear, lets move on how best we can measure and generate these project metrics

When To Measure
With project metrics, timing is critical. Though metric collection,analysis and reporting is an ongoing exercise , the type of metric(s) and its usablity may vary. Broadly we can put these into the following three

How do you use metrics within your projects? As usual would be glad for your feedback.

  • Bruce Fieggen

    I use Earned Value reporting but only share some of the metrics with my customers. They understand if we are below or over budget so I can report that and they love getting an accurate value of %Complete. But they can’t get their heads around a statement like: “We are currently $5,000 ahead of schedule. So I still report schedule using the Gantt chart.

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